San Jose Sharks: 5 Questions for 2nd Half of 2013 NHL Season
Primarily, when will they start scoring?
Whether the Sharks were really an offensive juggernaut was fairly questioned by "The Neutral" on Fear the Fin, but they've finished in the top 10 in the league every season under Todd McLellan until last year. Now that kind of elite scoring is coming from just four forwards and one defenseman.
Teams with gaping problems, championship aspirations and arguably the most prolific trade history of any team in recent years are bound to have trade rumors circulating about them. Certainly whether or not this roster is going to change is an obvious question.
What the team needs to ask internally is what elements of the game are missing and which of these trades solve those problems. For teams in need of goaltending, trading a second-round pick for Roberto Luongo would be a steal; for the Sharks, it would be a waste.
When the Sharks look at their roster and their play so far, finding as many answers as possible to these five questions could shore up that gaping hole and make them contenders for the 2013 Stanley Cup.
The San Jose Sharks only have three players with more than five goals through 25 games this season. Four forwards account for about three times the goals and assists that the remaining 12 players that play forward have combined. Only one defenseman has more than five points.
Even on the power play, the second unit has accounted for just two goals. One second-line forward has yet to score, another is again out of the lineup and their spots are frequently being taken by players previously scratched or assigned to the minor leagues.
Any trade must give the Sharks a fifth scoring forward or second scoring defenseman.
Since San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson is fond of squeezing one more year out of a player, we can all assume he has tried to bring Tomas Holmstrom out of retirement. His presence in front of the net is the primary thing lacking on this team.
Joe Pavelski is the smallest San Jose Sharks forward but the most productive by far near the net. Joe Thornton prefers to work behind it and Patrick Marleau is best in open space. Logan Couture is a little bigger than Pavelski, but he's also a little more inclined to work in space.
Ryane Clowe was great in front of the net when he was not stuck on the half-boards. But he has not been great at much this season, especially when the Sharks have the puck. Tommy Wingels and Adam Burish are the only other forwards that play in front of the net, and they will not score 10 goals between them.
A trade that gives the Sharks a reliable offensive presence in front of the net will improve scoring team-wide.
The San Jose Sharks have been a fast team since GM Doug Wilson took over in 2003. They are not anymore.
Patrick Marleau, Martin Havlat, Tim Kennedy, Tommy Wingels and James Sheppard are the only real skaters to play regularly on this year's roster. That means most lines will only have one player to force the defense deep.
Adding speed to this team could help them on both ends and should certainly be a goal of any trade.
The San Jose Sharks are third in the NHL in giveaways. This might be a more difficult problem to solve through a trade since most new linemates would have an adjustment period to go through.
Perhaps the juggling of lines—which to date, has also not worked—is partially to blame. Maybe a lack of practices makes this difficult to work on, and the lack of scoring is precipitating passes into tough areas.
Or maybe the team just needs to shoot more and pass less. Fewer passes means fewer giveaways that end the attack.
Outside of Dan Boyle and Ryane Clowe, no one on the San Jose Sharks seems to get angry. Yet the same could be said for the coolly efficient (at least prior to this year) Detroit Red Wings.
What they did not get were long periods of waning intensity, sitting on leads or teams being overlooked. Those problems are suited for emotional, accountable players who demand more of themselves and their teammates.
A trade should be for someone who can be more critical, not just after a game but during it. Someone the team must respect and play for, say, a "fiery" Hall of Fame captain of some poorly run team.